By Innocent Kurira
Chicken Inn FC continued with their poor run in the Chibuku Super Cup knock-out contest when they again bowed out in the first round of the competition after losing through the penalty lottery at the hands of visiting Manica Diamonds at Luveve Stadium yesterday.
The GameCocks have never made it past the first round of the competition which was re-introduced five years ago. The Chibuku Super Cup is the biggest knockout tournament in the country, whose winners earn a ticket to represent the country in the Caf Confederation Cup tournament.
Last year, the Gamecocks, who are one of the PSL title challengers, were banned from the Chibuku Super Cup tournament after they were found guilty of causing the abandonment of their 2017 first-round clash against Yadah FC.
The entertaining encounter yesterday had to be decided via the dreaded penalty shootout after the teams had played to a one all stalemate in regulation time. With the victory, Manica Diamonds have managed to complete a double over the former champions in a space of two weeks. Manica Diamonds stunned the GameCocks 2-0 in a league encounter a fortnight ago.
Partson Jaure shot the visitors into the lead in the 25th minute of the game with a powerful header after he was fed by Last Jesi on the right. The hosts equalised six minutes after the break through Malvin Gaki. The midfielder finished off a move that was started by fullback Phakamani Dube. A neat interchange of passes between Dube and speedy striker Obriel Chirinda resulted in the hosts’ equaliser.
The sides could not be separated after 90 minutes and went straight to the penalty shootout.
Riding on a six match unbeaten run in all competitions, Manica Diamonds looked confident throughout the penalty shoot-out that went to sudden death. The GameCocks used most of their fringe players as they rested first team players.
George Majika, Innocent Muchaneka and Chirinda scored the first three spot-kicks for Chicken Inn before Dube blasted the fourth kick over the bar. Dube’s outrageous effort was as uninspiring as his run-up to take the kick.
Full back Nyasha Gurende and goalkeeper Pride Zendera were the other ones who converted their efforts. Defender Ben Nyahunzwi and Simon Munawa had their kicks saved by veteran shot stopper Tafadzwa Dube.
Jeffery Takunda got the visitors off to the perfect start when he converted their first-spot kick. Despite Stephen Sibanda missing the second one Stanley Ngala, Partson Jaure, Peace Makaha, Nelson Tachi and Carlton Munzabwa, who scored the winner, all kept their cool to find the back of the net from six yards out. The visitors’ other miss was by Lawrence Masibera whose tame effort was easily saved by Zendera.
Manica Diamond coach, Johanisi Nhumwa, was over the moon with the result.
“The game was okay, we started well and played according to our game plan. We wanted to contain them in the middle of the park and we managed to do just that. We are happy to have come out with this pleasing result,” Nhumwa said.
His opposite number Joey Antipas said: “This is one of those things that happen in football. Players tend to freeze when they are taking penalties but the boys put up a good show. I feel for the boys because they have to lose this way. I believe anyone can miss a penalty, Manica had a lot of experienced players taking those kicks that is why they managed to convert more than us.”
Meanwhile, TelOne coach Rahman Gumbo snubbed the post-match interviews in frustration after his charges crashed out of the Chibuku Super Cup following this first round loss at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Melvin Mekiwa’s strike in the first half and an own goal by Emmanuel Mandiranga in the second ensured the hosts secured their place in the quarter-finals of the country’s biggest knock-out tournament.
The former Warriors assistant coach remained on the pitch long after the final whistle and showed no interest in attending the presser.
Black Rhinos coach, Herbert Maruwa, whose club is also in the title mix, was ecstatic after the match.
“It’s a feel good factor to see your charges play with so much conviction,’’ he said. The Chronicle